Is there a genetic element to IBS?
Investigations into the family prevalence of IBS have previously relied on patients' reports of their relatives symptoms which, becaue of the nature of the suymptoms, are probably signficiantly under-reported.
However, Dr Yuri Saito of the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Center for Digestive Disease in Rochester, Minnesota, and her colleagues directly surveyed 477 people with IBS and 1,492 of their first-degree relatives (meaning a parent, sibling or child), as well as 297 healthy control patients and 936 of their relatives, about their bowel symptoms.
Half of the IBS patients' family members had symptoms themselves, compared to 27% of the control patients' families. This translated into a 2.75 times greater risk of IBS for patients' family members.
Half of the IBS patients' family members had symptoms themselves, compared to 27 percent of the control patients' families. This translated into a 2.75 times greater risk of IBS for patients' family members.
Dr Saito hopes that the findings may kick-start a hunt for genes that might be involved in IBS; none have, to date, been discovered. However, environmental factors shared within families (such as abuse) could also be a factor leading to increased risk.
Although, as yet, this research has no treatment implications for people with IBS, the researchers believe that it may be 'reassuring' for them to know that their symptoms may have a biological cause.
The American Journal of Gastroenterology, April 2010.
Courtesy of Reuters
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